Putting Your Eggs in One Basket

   

Egg Donation & IVF

In 2012, the Society for Assisted Reproductive Technology reported the highest percentages of babies ever were born through In-Vitro Fertilization (IVF) procedures. Centers for Disease Control statistics showed 1.5% of all babies born that year were conceived through IVF. Egg donation and concurrent IVF treatments may be some women’s only viable option to conceive a child. Unfortunately the success rate is 50%, and the process leading up to a successful conception is difficult and expensive, (averaging around $40,000).

Most states do not mandate insurance companies to cover the cost of IVF treatments, since they are seen as “advanced procedures”. However, initial diagnostic testing, which has the ability to identify the causes for difficulty in conception, is covered by most insurance companies. As a result, many women are left to fund infertility treatments out-of-pocket.

egg donors

Recruitment of Egg Donors

The process by which egg donors are recruited and screened leaves much to be desired. A large percentage of donors are college students or recent graduates.  Currently, no legislation exists in regards to egg donation. The American Society for Reproductive Medicine has general guidelines:  women under the age of 21 should not donate and in general women should not donate their eggs more than six times. The egg donation limit is obfuscated when many clinics pay more for a woman to donate her eggs following a successful previous donation (one in which a child was successfully conceived).

Research has shown that some clinics or agencies that recruit egg donors sometimes lack ethics in their recruitment processes. A 2012 study conducted by the Columbia University Mailman School of Public Health that analyzed information from 102 egg donor agencies or clinic websites found: 34% of these sites mentioned paying women with “desirable” traits more for donating their eggs. Also 56% of these sites failed to mention short-term physical risks to donating, like Ovarian Hyper stimulation Syndrome. Further, 77% of the sites did not mention potential negative psychological effects following donation. The study did not assess whether these risks were discussed later in the donation process.

Reading this study struck me for various reasons. First, as a graduate student in her early 20s I am a prime candidate for these egg donation recruiters. While I wouldn’t donate out of fear that the hormonal treatments could develop into ovarian cancer, it strikes me that many young women with limited finances (as is often the lived experience of most graduate students) would be lured to egg donation without having been given true informed consent.  As egg donation is growing in popularity as a means for conceiving a child, it should be monitored and regulated. More research needs to be done studying the long-term effects on both the physical and mental status of women who choose to donate their eggs.

Egg donor registries should be created to hinder egg donation as a means of creating a living for women in tight financial status.  Also, egg registries are vital as a way for parents caring whose children who are conceived via a donated egg can have answers if their child later develops a genetic abnormality or illness. A concern of financially incentivizing egg donation is the potential for the creation of “designer babies” and racial discrimination of undesired traits. If clinics are selecting egg donors based on “desirable traits” through larger economic incentives, what’s to say if left unregulated this might not turn into a new form of eugenics?

egg donation process

Original Article: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3470907/

Additional Information about Egg Donation:

Columbia Fertility Center: http://columbiafertility.org/fertility-services/egg-donors/#.UyiSDiLD_nI

Society for Assisted Reproductive Technology: https://www.sartcorsonline.com/rptCSR_PublicMultYear.aspx?ClinicPKID=0

American Society for Reproductive Medicine: http://www.reproductivefacts.org/Egg_Donation_factsheet/

Would You Customize Your First Child?: http://gizmodo.com/would-you-customize-your-first-born-child-1543383810/@ishaaran

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